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Know Your (Temporary) Rival: Western Illinois

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The real basketball games start tomorrow!!!  That can only mean one thing: Know Your Rival is back!  As part of the Cancun Challenge, Mizzou plays Western Illinois at 7pm on Thursday and North Florida at 3pm on Saturday, then heads to Cancun to play Wyoming on Tuesday and either Providence or La Salle on Wednesday.  Let's kick things off with some WIU goodness...

Also, more importantly: LEAVE YOUR TRIFECTA* PICKS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!!  That's right ... the world's least-winnable game is back!

* For newer readers, the Trifecta is your attempt to guess which Mizzou players will finish 1-2-3 in AdjGS points in this game.  We attempted this for about half or two-thirds of last season, and one person won.  Um, good luck.

Western Illinois Leathernecks: 2-0

Pace (No. of Possessions)
Points Per Minute
1.78 1.24
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.21 0.84
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.71 1.15
2-PT FG% 59.0% 41.9%
3-PT FG% 45.5% 20.8%
FT% 80.0% 65.3%
True Shooting % 67.6% 46.0%
WIU Opp.
Assists/Gm 12.0 9.0
Steals/Gm 5.5 5.0
Turnovers/Gm 15.0 18.0
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.17 0.78
WIU Opp.
Expected Offensive Reb./Gm 7.5 11.0
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 7.5 13.0
Difference +0.0 +2.0

If the above stats were against real teams, this would be a pretty scary team -- good shooting, good 3-point defense, high number of turnovers forced.  Of course, their 2-0 start has come against Savannah State (one of the, um, lesser Division 1 teams) and the St. Francis Saints of Joliet, IL, and the NAIA.  They beat Savannah State, 59-52, then laid the wood to the Saints, 83-47.  They play sllllllloooowwwww.

Ken Pomeroy Stats (2009-10)

WIU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

WIU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 313
Mizzou Big
Effective FG% 295
Mizzou Big
Turnover % 195
Mizzou Big
Off. Reb. % 329
MU Offense vs WIU Defense Ranks

MU Offense WIU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 43
Mizzou Big
Effective FG% 102
Turnover % 43
Mizzou Big
Off. Reb. % 126

Where the Leathernecks are weakest

Well, they committed 30 turnovers in games against Savannah State and St. Francis (IL).  That's what we in the business call ... a red flag.  Plus, they allowed a higher-than-expected number of offensive rebounds in these games.  Last season, one of their best KenPom rankings came in the Defensive Rebounding category; they might be alright there for the long haul, but if you're giving up offensive rebounds, you are failing to take advantage of one of Missouri's bigger weaknesses.

Where they are best

Granted, they have been playing against air, but they have shot very, very well in two games this season.  They also played very good FG% defense last season.  They milk the hell out of the clock, and they force opponents to get a little impatient.  If, somehow, Mizzou is not forcing turnovers and getting into transition, this game will turn into a slog.  Mizzou will still almost certainly win no matter what the pace, but it won't be a tremendously pretty win.

WIU's Season to Date

  • Wins (Team Rank is from
    #316 Savannah State (59-52)
    NR St. Francis (IL) (83-47)
  • Losses

Undefeated, baby!

WIU Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Ceola Clark III (6'3, 190, Jr.)
34.5 MPG, 16.5 PPG (50% 3PT), 5.0 APG, 2 SPG, 2.5 TOPG
Matt Lander (6'4, 185, Sr.)
32.5 MPG, 18.5 PPG (69.5% TS%), 3.0 APG, 1.5 RPG, 3.0 TOPG
Jelani Johnson (6'4, 190, So.)
21.0 MPG, 7.0 PPG (71.4% FG), 1.5 APG, 2.5 TOPG
David Gebru (6'10, 235, So.)
16.0 MPG, 8.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.0 TOPG
Kalmarr Price (6'8, 235, Jr.)
19.5 MPG, 2.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.0 BPG
Emeka Okafor, Jr. (6'7, 210, Jr.)
9.5 MPG, 1.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.5 APG
Jack Houpt (6'7, 210, So.)
26.5 MPG, 4.5 PPG (37.5% FG), 3.0 RPG
Brandon Smith (6'0, 185, Sr.)
8.5 MPG, 4.5 PPG, 1.5 TOPG
Tommie Tyler (6'3, 190, Jr.)
24.5 MPG, 6.0 PPG (44.4% FG), 1.5 TOPG

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls.  It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Most Touches Per Possession: Clark (4.4), Okafor (4.2, in limited minutes)
  • Highest Usage%: Lander (30%), Gebru (29%), Smith (27%)
  • Highest Floor%: Clark (50%), Lander (50%), Johnson (45%)
  • %Pass: Okafor (76%), Clark (66%), Johnson (56%)
  • %Shoot: Gebru (50%), Tyler (42%), Smith (32%)
  • %Fouled: Smith (36%), Gebru (28%), Price (27%)
  • %TO: Smith (32%), Gebru (22%), Johnson (16%)

First things first: Emeka Okafor, Jr., is not the 'junior' of that Emeka Okafor ... but he is that Emeka's third cousin.  (Since I had to look at his WIU bio for that tidbit, I can also tell you that he loves Jay-Z, One Republic, and Kobe Bryant, and he hopes to one day become either a dermatologist or an orthopedic surgeon.  The More You Know...)

Basically this team has two good players -- Clark and Lander -- and they both play in the backcourt.  Clark is a solid distributor (his %Pass suggests he's the point guard) and shooter.  Tommie Tyler probably steals a few too many shots from these two players.  They appear to play 3-4 guards a decent amount of the time, and they have not yet settled on a big man rotation.  On a per-minute basis, Okafor has been their most effective big(ish) man, but he does not have the pure size of Gebru or Price.  Houpt is a junior college transfer who is playing major minutes but not really doing a lot.

Keys to the Game

  1. Show Up.  I always hate listing this as a key -- it sounds arrogant -- but under Mike Anderson, Mizzou doesn't lose these games (losing at Oral Roberts last season was the closest thing, and WIU is no ORU), and the only way they will is if they fall asleep at the wheel.

  2. Challenge Shots.  Granted, it was an exhibition, and the backups got major time, but Arkansas-Ft. Smith got a few too many open shots last Friday night considering the level of the opponent.  I'm pretty sure UAFS was actually more athletic than WIU (it's the main thing they had going for them), but Mizzou wasn't amazingly sharp in their rotations just yet, and the other way the Leathernecks could stick around is with hot shooting.

  3. Get Them Moving.  WIU does not want to run.  They were 338th in Tempo last season (62.6 possessions/game), and even including the blowout win over St. Francis (IL), they're averaging just 58.5 possessions/game.  This is one of those "Whose Personality Wins?" games, and while I assume that with better talent and a home crowd, Mizzou will impose their will, it's not a guarantee.  They still have to go and do it.


We just do not play enough teams named the Leathernecks, do we?  We'll say that Western Illinois successfully junks this game up for 10-12 minutes or so, and the score is something like 14-12 Mizzou before the inevitable run kicks in and Mizzou wins, 84-56.